The Blurry Lines of Podcasting


The Blurry Lines of Podcasting

Podcasting has got to be one of the most exciting platforms to enter the marketing landscape in the last decade but what is it that makes podcasting so unique?

You’ve probably heard about podcasting here and there, and if you follow my articles you definitely would have heard about it a lot! Podcasting is a form of audio communication that was first launched on iTunes in 2005; it married together our innate love of talk-show television and radio with our newfound love of portable, attention free devices.

If you wanted to listen to someone break down current affairs you didn’t have to be glued to a radio, or watch a TV, or have to sit down and read the paper, you could keep yourself in-the-know while you went about your normal daily routine. But that was thirteen years ago; now we have TV at our fingertips, radio apps on our phones and 100 eBooks stored on the one device.

What makes podcasting different from other mediums, and why is its popularity continuing to soar?

Well, I could answer you myself, but I think Richard Berry puts it so well:

“Rather than being one medium with a single function podcasting sits in a liminal space that cuts across other forms of public and performative work, including journalism, comedy, pedagogy, and independent amateur productions. As Kate Lacey might say, it has no edges or at least edges that blur and intersect with other things.”

What makes podcasting unique, isn’t its ease of consumption or format of delivery or any other formulaic aspect really.

What makes podcasting unique is its complete lack of formula.

A television show or radio segment has some pretty strict guidelines it needs to adhere to; you need to allow time for a certain number of ads or songs, you need to fall into a specific genre, and you can’t air certain things at certain times. But a podcast isn’t restricted by any of these things.

A podcast can run for 5 minutes or 2 hours; it can include music, sound clips, or simply continuous talking and it can have hosts, callers, guests or performers. Best of all, a podcast can be about anything, and I really do mean anything.

If you have a look on the Podcast App right now, you’ll find true crime series, live theatrical performances, comedy shows, talks shows, science programs, sports commentary and even a show that unpacks the latest in Formula 1 racing (one of my personal favourites). And all of these genres have dedicated audiences.

Why? Because unlike TV and radio audiences, who have come to expect and enjoy a certain formula, podcast listeners are always ready to encounter the weird and wonderful and different, in fact, they embrace it.

Podcast listeners are looking for niche subjects, audio experiences, and educational tools that they can’t find anywhere else (but having said that, with over 50 billion all-time downloads, it’s safe to say that podcasting doesn’t just have a ‘niche audience’).

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, if you haven’t already guessed it, I think that podcasting poses a fantastic marketing opportunity for Small Businesses. Think about it:

  • If you create a radio commercial, you’re going to be restricted to a 15-30 second slot.
  • If you plan on releasing a TV ad, you’re going to have to spend a lot of money to make something worthwhile.
  • If you want to convey a large amount of valuable information to your audience, you’ll have to write a couple of thousand word article and hope that a few people are inclined to set aside their time to read it.

The beauty of podcasting as a marketing tool is that it doesn’t require your audience’s full attention, but it’s also not asking you to cram everything you want to convey into a 30-second slot.

Podcasting allows you to take your time, to have a bit of fun with your topic, and to get your brand out there. For example:

  • If you’re in Information Technology then why not help your audience understand their website build on their way to work, and when they need a bit of help, you’ll be the first person they reach out to.
  • If you’re in real estate, give your clients your top tips for finding the best place while they do their dishes, and when they need help finding their dream home, your name will be the first they think of.

The best thing about business podcasting is that it’s marketing without the selling.

Unlike TV and radio audiences, podcast listeners aren’t just looking to be entertained; they’re looking to be informed about the topic that you know best. So give them what they’re looking for and get your brand out there and if you’re smart about it, you’ll end up getting a pretty loyal client base out of it too.

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